ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Indiana had an impressive season in 2019. They made history in 2020. In 2021, the Hoosiers will not even see a bowl game.
Indiana (2-7, 0-6 B1G) showed little-to-no explosiveness and playmaking on both sides of the ball, losing 29-7 to No. 9 Michigan (8-1, 5-1 B1G). Michigan has now won 21 straight against the Hoosiers at the Big House, dating back to 1967.
Donaven McCulley got the start at QB for Indiana, although Michael Penix Jr. made the trip to Ann Arbor and got in a few practice throws before the game. Penix and Jack Tuttle are still week-to-week.
McCulley looked poised in front of 109,890 at Michigan Stadium, as he used his power running ability and short passing game to keep Michigan’s tenacious defense off balance. According to the most recent ESPN SP+ ratings, the Wolverines came in to the game with the 5th-best defense in college football.
McCulley connected on his first three attempts, finding Matt Bjorson, AJ Barner, and Davion Ervin-Poindexter. IU’s opening drive stalled at midfield, however, as Michigan’s vaunted pressure tandem of Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo consistently maneuvered their way into McCulley’s lap.
Michigan scored the first points of the game on a 34-yard Jake Moody field goal on the final play of the first quarter. There was a “feeling out” process for both teams, as even though they are division rivals, both teams have new quarterbacks and have distinctly different vibes in this game compared to last year’s.
Ojabo made the first “splash” play of the game, jarring the ball free of McCulley’s grasp on a sack early in the second quarter. Chris Hinton recovered, and four plays later, star RB Hassan Haskins strolled into the end zone, giving the Wolverines a two-score advantage.
Haskins had 10 carries in the first quarter alone, and the Wolverines needed to rely on him more after dynamic back Blake Corum exited after his only touch of the game. Haskins offered a steady, reliable presence all night out of the backfield, and his touchdown in the second quarter extended his streak to seven straight home games where he found paydirt. Haskins finished the night with a whopping 27 carries, a career-high 168 yards, and the TD.
Indiana’s most successful drive of the game came after Haskins’ score. McCulley found Peyton Hendershot on back-to-back completions to navigate into Michigan territory, including a pass off a neatly-designed trick play. McCulley then made one of the best plays of the season by any Hoosier on the offensive side of the ball.
After McCulley’s daring run into goal-to-go territory, Chris Childers crossed the goal line to bring IU within 10-7. It was Childers’ first career touchdown, and the walk-on transfer from Indiana State and Chicagoland native got that touchdown at the biggest venue in college football. Starting RB Stephen Carr left the game in the first half with a hamstring.
As was the case in previous defeats, Indiana greatly struggled to play complementary football. After the touchdown by Childers, the defense conceded a massive 62-yard run to Haskins that may have proved to be an early knockout blow. Michigan QB Cade McNamara found TE Luke Schoonmaker in the end zone to restore UM’s 10-point lead. Schoonmaker scored a touchdown in the 4th quarter as well to ice the game.
A lack of big plays plagued the Hoosiers on Saturday. Only three plays on offense netted 10 yards or more. Meanwhile, Michigan, whose offense did not nearly as dangerous as Ohio State’s, had 12 such plays. The issue wasn’t limited to the offensive side of the ball. IU brought in one interception through Devon Matthews, but that came in garbage time. IU got three sacks, one of which came from superstar LB Micah McFadden. McFadden extended his TFL streak to 14 games, and he was easily IU’s best player tonight, making impressive tackles all over the field and drawing rave reviews from the TV broadcast.
Next Up: Rutgers
Indiana plays Rutgers next week at Memorial Stadium, as the Hoosiers attempt to snap a five-game losing streak. IU will likely be favored. Time and TV are still to be determined.
Featured Photo: Michigan Football